DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY
It sounds like a cliché to say that every day is different but it’s true. I love interacting with work colleagues in the various disciplines to ensure that we are buying the best sites, in the best locations to deliver housing across the Midlands, to meet our ambitious aspirations and to grow our business. In my job I tend to talk to a lot of people and that makes life interesting!
WHAT GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING?
I work with a great team of people, both regionally and across the whole Group. Everyone has a clear focus and understanding of what they need to do. In all honesty what inspires me to leap out of bed are the fantastic people I work with.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A NEW LAND ACQUISITION?
In our business you have to have foresight and vision. When I look at a new piece of land, be it a green field or a redundant factory complex, I take in the surroundings, get an understanding of how our development could fit in with the community, I close my eyes and I visualise how we could make a difference. I once worked with a very motivated and spiritual man who had a fantastic expression, “Visualise to actualise”. In other words, if you can’t imagine what it might look like, it’s hard to make it happen.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING PIECE OF LAND ACQUIRED BY AVANT?
We have bought a number of interesting sites over the years but an example of a site which was utterly transformed would be our land at Waverley, near Sheffield. It is a former open-cast coal mine that has been remediated so that homes can be built on it! The Government is keen to see previously developed land brought forward for housing and that is a prime example.
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING PLANNING APPLICATION YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED WITH?
I would say the Dyson Brickworks in Stannington near Sheffield. A brownfield site with major remediation works needed, yet located within designated greenbelt. Avant worked tirelessly with both Sheffield City Council, the District Valuer and the landowner to unlock the site and produce a landmark development in the area that captures the industrial heritage through thoughtful and striking elevational themes.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
To be honest I could offer up a list of land deals that were a mark of success but sometimes I think successes aren’t just all about “the deal”! Some of my greatest successes, in my long and varied career, have been recruiting the right people to join the business and watching them grow, flourish and succeed. That gives me a huge sense of achievement.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
It’s never a dull day at Avant. The company is both ambitious and progressive. We have a five-year mission to double the number of homes we build and, in turn, double our financial turnover. In May 2018 we opened our 5th Regional business known as the Central Region based in Chesterfield. Our current focus is to expand into the West Midlands towards Birmingham. My role in the Midlands business is to spearhead that expansion, to enhance and develop the business and to play an active part in achieving our ambitious growth plans.